NHL 20: Complete Team Strategies Guide, Line Strategies Guide, Best Team Strategies

A comprehensive guide of how each of the team strategies and line strategies options works as well as the best team strategies to use in NHL 20.


Even if your team boasts a collection of the very best players in NHL 20, the chances are that they won’t play to their strengths or your strengths unless you adjust your team strategies.

The team strategies and line strategies pages can be a bit daunting at first, but this NHL 20 team strategies guide will help you to work out the best combinations for your team.


To embark on making your team the best that it can be, you’ll first want to make your way to the strategies page.

How do you change your strategy in NHL 20?

On Franchise Mode in NHL 20, you’ll want to move across to the Team Management screen, into the Manage Rosters section, and then scroll down to Edit Strategies.

When you’re in the Strategies section, you’ll see all of the team strategies that you can change. The team strategies impact the general tendencies of your whole team in each game.

If you hold down L2 or LT, you’ll get a drop-down where you can move to the offensive lines and defensive pairings strategy pages, allowing you to tinker with how each line plays.

First of all, we’re going to breakdown all of the team strategies in NHL 20.

NHL 20 Team Strategies Guide

Across the 13 adjustable team strategies in NHL 20, you have 56 options to make your team act as you want them to on defence, offence, and on special teams.

In each of these sections, we’ve arranged the options from the more passive team strategy option available to the most aggressive.

In this guide, you’ll encounter terms such as ‘strong side’ and weak side.’ The weak side is the side of the rink where the puck isn’t at that moment. The strong side is the side of the rink where the puck is being carried.

Forecheck

Your forecheck strategy in NHL 20 concerns how your team acts when your opponent has the puck in their defensive zone and heads through to the neutral zone.

An effective forecheck allows you to pressurise the puck carrier and force them into making a poor pass. By shutting off passing lanes and making the player in possession skate down closed-off zones, you can turn over the puck.

1-2-2 Passive: This is the most passive forecheck team strategy, with all of your skaters looking to stop breakout passes as opposed to putting direct pressure on the puck. While your forwards will be deep in the offensive end, with one pressing the puck carrier, both defensemen will be on the blueline for cover.

1-2-2 Aggressive: The set up is very similar to the 1-2-2 Passive, but with this team strategy, two forwards will push high up the ice to cut off passing lanes while the other chases down and pressurises the puck carrier.

2-3: Your two defensemen and a forward will set up as a trio along the neutral line to act as a wall against any breakouts. The other two forwards attempt to cut off easy passing lanes by aggressively hunting down the player in possession.

Weak Side Lock: The weak side defenseman locks to the weak side to stop any breakaways down that flank. At the same time, your three forwards will put pressure along the boards on the strong side, boxing the puck carrier to one wing where they’re expected to clash into your strong side defenseman, who will pinch along the boards.

Neutral Zone

The NHL 20 team strategies for the neutral zone determine your team’s formation when your opponent has possession of the puck and is skating through the neutral zone towards your defensive zone.

1-3-1: One defenseman and two forwards align along the defensive blueline, with one defenseman sitting in deep. The one at the back covers your defensive zone while a forward, ahead of the trio on the blueline, pursues the puck.

1-4: Four skaters set-up along the defensive blueline, effectively establishing a wall to try to block the rush. Your other forward pressures the puck carrier as they enter the neutral zone.

1-2-2 Red: Your two defensemen set up on your defensive blueline, two forwards man the red line (the halfway line), and one forward pursues the puck carrier. With your skaters stacked in two rows of two, opponents trying to break down any channel will be met with two sets of pressure.

1-2-2 Blue: A more aggressive version of 1-2-2 Red, the defensemen set up on the red line while two forwards set up on your offensive blueline. The third forward pressures the puck carrier.

Trap/Forecheck

Ranging from zero to six, the lower the number, the more often your skaters will refer to setting a trap in the neutral zone. With a higher number along the slider, your team is more likely to push the forecheck in the offensive end.

For a balanced mix between neutral zone traps and forechecking, set the slider to three.

Offensive Pressure

Much of your offensive pressure team strategies in NHL 20 tilt on how aggressive you want your defensemen to be when you have the puck in the offensive end.

Defend Lead: When you choose the NHL 20 team strategy of Defend Lead, your players won’t take any chances on offence. Your defensemen will usually sit just behind the blue line, with the focus being to stop breakaways as opposed to offering passing options.

Conservative: Your players are much more cautious about getting up the ice in case the opposition reclaims the puck. But when you’re set up in the offensive zone, your defensemen are more likely to move up slightly to become a passing option than with the Defend Lead team strategy.

Standard: Standard offers a more neutral balance between the Conservative offensive pressure team strategy and the Aggressive offensive pressure team strategy.

Aggressive: Your defensemen will take more chances, pinching in more often to create offensive opportunities and finding space along the blueline to create a passing option. However, the need to stand as defenders isn’t wholly abandoned.

Full Attack: Everything is fixated on creating offensive opportunities, with your defensemen being fully committed to contributing in the attack. They’ll make space to become passing options and push into the slot to try to create goal-scoring opportunities.

Defensive Pressure

These NHL 20 team strategies dictate how aggressive your players act – or rather, how much defensive pressure they apply – when your opponent brings the puck into your defensive zone.

Protect Net: Your players collapse into a defensive formation around your net. The aim is to block any incoming shots, cut off visible shooting lanes, and stop players from getting up close to the goal.

Contain Puck: This team strategy is a slightly more aggressive and expansive form of Protect Net. Your skaters still set up around the net, but not as tightly, being much more mobile to close down the puck when it enters their area.

Normal: Normal defensive pressure results in some players locking down close to the net to block shots while the others close down opponents. It’s a mix of zonal defence and one-on-one defence.

Puck Side Attack: Players on the strong side will move to close down the puck and the puck carrier; your other skaters will wait for the puck come to their side before acting to close down opponents.

High Pressure: This is the most aggressive form of defensive pressure in the NHL 20 team strategies, with your skaters applying very high pressure on the puck and opponents to actively get the puck back.

Defensive Strategy

While the defensive pressure team strategies command how active your skaters are when trying to win the puck back, your defensive strategies in NHL 20 establish their formation.

So, combining a defensive pressure with a similarly aggressive defensive strategy often makes sense.

Collapsing: Four of your skaters collapse into a squared formation around your net, with the fifth applying some pressure to the puck. Those around the net attempt to block shots, cut off shooting lanes, stifle the wraparound, and cut out passes that would slide across the face of goal.

Staggered: Some guard closer to the net to provide low coverage while others sit higher up to try to put pressure on puck carriers and those on the blueline. The Staggered defensive strategy in NHL 20 achieves a good mix of high coverage and low coverage.

Tight Point: The Tight Point team strategy is much more akin to one-to-one defence, with your skaters getting up close to their designated opponent. Its primary aim is to neutralise a team with a high-scoring defenseman but works well to keep constant pressure on the puck. That said, if an opponent breaks beyond their marker, there won’t be a second line of defence.

Penalty Kill

When your team is on the penalty kill, you’re almost expected to concede a goal.

Your opponent will have all of their top offensive talents on the ice, so your penalty kill team strategy needs to suit your skaters’ ability and maintain a good structure.

Passive Box: Your skaters will hold a tight formation around the goaltender’s crease and the high slot. Holding a square, your players will be there to block shots and try to jam a stick in the way of any surging opponents or pass attempts.

Diamond: The Diamond penalty kill strategy is devised to cover the popular Umbrella power play. It presents itself as a middle ground between the Passive Box and Large Box but with the square tilted into more of a diamond shape. Two players cover the wings, one covers the point, and the fourth sits in front of the crease.

Large Box: This penalty kill strategy offers the most expansive and aggressive structure. Your skaters set up in a wider box, intending to apply more pressure around the edges and to snuff out pass attempts.

Power Play

At some point in a game, you’re bound to find yourself with an advantage on the power play for at least two minutes.

You’ll most likely have your best players on the ice during your power play. As such, this is your best chance to score a goal.

Umbrella: Your skaters set up in a formation that takes a similar form to that of an umbrella, thus the name. There’ll be one skater at the point, one skater stationed to the side of either goalpost, and one atop each of the two faceoff circles. Puck circulation is key to this power play strategy, with quick and accurate puck movement making space for the player on the point to fire on net.

Overload: It is suggested that the Overload power play strategy is only used by a unit that boasts many skilled players. The strategy allows for each player to have plenty of room to operate and it creates many shooting angles.

Shooting: This NHL 20 team strategy is as aggressive as they come on the power play. Your sole aim here is to challenge the goaltender as often as possible, using quick puck movement and plenty of shots to test the opposing netminder. The goaltender will have to contend with a screen while your other players set up in duos on either side: one at the top of the faceoff circle and the other on the blueline.

PP Carry/Dump

Ranging from zero to ten, the lower the number, the more often your skaters will refer to carrying the puck up the ice on the power play. With a higher number along the slider, your team is more likely to dump the puck into the offensive end when on the power play.

For a balanced mix between carrying the puck and dumping the puck while on the power play, set the slider to five.

Control Breakout

A control breakout begins when you pick up the puck in the defensive end, usually behind your own net, with your choice in this section effectively setting up your passing options on a breakout.

Your team strategy here decides the movement of your skaters who aren’t in control of the breakout and the formation in which they make their way through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.

Blue to Blue: A player waits behind your net with the puck, waiting for your center to come around from one side of the net to swing around to the other. At the same time, the wingers present themselves as options on the near and far side of the offensive blueline, with the other skater set up on your defensive blueline.

Three High: You defenseman will wait with the puck behind the net for a bit longer than with the Blue to Blue team strategy, waiting for your three forwards to set up in a line high in the neutral zone. You can initiate a quick breakout if you play an early pass to one of the forwards once they’re in the trio line formation, allowing them plenty of lateral passing options.

Strong Side Slant: Your center will swing around the puck carrier behind the net, moving up the neutral zone alongside the skater in possession as well as a defenseman. While skating up the neutral zone, your right winger will shift over to the strong side to support the charge.

Power Play Breakout

Your power play carry/dump team strategy influences how your players will move the puck when you retrieve it in the defensive end while on the power play.

Your power play breakout strategy determines the formation that your skaters will set up in once you reclaim possession in your defensive zone – most likely after the opposition dump the puck.

Five Back: When the puck comes into your defensive zone, all five of your skaters trackback to form up and then move up the ice in formation.

Single Swing: Once you pick up the puck at your end of the ice, a defender and a forward will swing around the back of the net while the player in possession advances up the ice. The other skaters will already be standing as options at the near and far side of the offensive blueline. As the carrier pushes up the ice, they have pass options high in the neutral zone and in the form of the two skaters swinging around the back.

Centre Lane Option: The player who picks up the puck at the back passes into a skater in the middle of the ice. Moving into the neutral zone, the puck carrier comes up the centre with the aim of drawing in opponents to then pass to an outside option.

Carry Option: Having picked up the puck, the skater will surge through the neutral zone. The other skaters will pull out wide to make space for the rushing puck carrier, creating a diversion. However, if closed down while carrying the puck, there are plenty of wide passing options.

Quick Breakout

The quick breakout team strategies guide how your team sets up when you retrieve the puck and look to break into the neutral zone quickly and then into the offensive end.

Close Support: With the puck carrier leading the breakout, your weak side winger will move in close to offer a quick passing option.

Stay Wide: When the breakout gets underway, the weak side winger will remain out wide, offering a more advanced passing option than in the Close Support team strategy.

Leave Zone Early: As soon as you reclaim the puck, the weak side winger will surge into the neutral zone to offer a quick and long passing option to the puck carrier.

3-on-3 Offence

If your game goes to overtime, will your NHL 20 team strategies lean towards conservative play to push for a penalty shootout, or would you rather go all-in knowing that at least one point is already secured?

Passive: Your skaters are very cautious of getting caught too high up the ice and not being back to cover a potential breakaway. So, you’ll usually have fewer players in good scoring positions when you get into the offensive end.

Standard: With the standard team strategy selection here, your skaters won’t go all-in on an aggressive attack, nor will they over-commit to defence. It strikes a balance between Passive and Aggressive play during three-on-three hockey.

Aggressive: Caution is thrown to the wind with your players fixated on firing the first shots and getting a goal as quickly as possible.

NHL 20 Offensive Line and Defensive Pairing strategies

In NHL 20, you can adjust how each of your four offensive lines and three defensive pairings tends to use the puck and defend.

Your team strategies will still govern the overall tactics of your team, but by adjusting the offensive line and defensive pairing strategies, you can create specific plans to suit your players’ strengths.

Offensive Line strategies

For each of your four offensive lines, you can adjust how they play in the offensive end and each line’s tendency to carry or dump the puck, cycle or shoot the puck, skate efficiently or at a high-tempo, and how often they’ll choose to try to block shots.

Naturally, the skill level of your players and their value to your team will influence how you set up the line strategy options and sliders.

Behind the Net: Once you move into the offensive zone, your line will set up with a skater standing behind the opposition net. With quick passing, the player behind the net can take advantage of the goaltender’s lack of vision behind their crease to open up scoring lanes.

Overload: Your players spread out a lot more with the Overload line strategy in NHL 20, giving highly-rated players plenty of room to use their speed and skill to create chances in the offensive end.

Crash the Net: If your line is stacked with strong players, Crash the Net is a good choice to make the most of their physicality. With this line strategy, players without the puck crowd the net on the rush, setting up loads of screens and potential deflections.

Carry/Dump: Ranging from zero to ten, a lower number on the slider will see your skaters opt to carry the puck more than dump it into the offensive end.

Cycle/Shoot: Ranging from zero to ten, a lower number on the slider will see your skaters try to cycle the puck to reveal better shooting lanes as opposed to shooting more often when in sight of the goal.

Efficiency/Energy: Ranging from zero to ten, a lower number on the slider will make your team skate more efficiently, saving them energy for later in the game. Moving the slider to a higher number will mean that they play at a high intensity with a lot of hustle, draining energy faster.

Don’t Block/Block: Ranging from zero to ten, a lower number on the slider means that your skaters are more inclined to put their bodies on the line to block shots. A higher number on the slider means that your skaters will try to keep the shooting lane clear so that your goalie can see the shot.

Defensive Pairing strategies

You only have a couple of options to decide how your defensive pairings operate independently from each other.

In the defensive pairing line strategies, you’ll be able to decide the aggression of your defensemen and if they should seek to pass or shoot.

Hold Line/Pinch: Ranging from zero to ten, a lower number on the slider means that your defensemen on this line will try to hold their position on the blueline. A higher number means that they’ll look to pinch up from the blueline to take risks and make aggressive plays.

Cycle/Shoot: Ranging from zero to ten, a lower number on the slider means that your defensemen will seek to cycle the puck more often, looking for a pass rather than firing off a shot. A higher number means that, if the option is there, your defensemen will tend to fire a shot on net.

The best team strategies on NHL 20

You should always pick your team strategies based on the strengths of your players, how fast your players are, and your own playing preferences.

If you’re more of a defensive player, you should select more of the passive team strategies. However, if your team is filled with skilled players and you can utilise their high offensive attribute ratings, opt for more aggressive or skill-oriented team strategies.

The team strategy options selected below work well for a strong team that is capable of being a postseason contender. It offers a good mix of defensive coverage and allows skilled players to use their offensive talents often.

This set of team strategies for NHL 20 likely won’t be best suited for your team, but it should work as a good base for you to then make adjustments based on the strengths of your players and line combinations.

The best line strategies on NHL 20

For your offensive line strategies, using the comparably few options available, it’s quite easy to make your team more possession-oriented, high-tempo, or defensive.

For your top line, you’ll likely want to utilise the offensive skill of your best players, so the offensive line strategy selection below can be used as a starting point.

Depending on how many primary special teams lines your top line players feature in, you may want to tune down the Efficiency/Energy slider.

As for your defensive pairings, it all comes down to if you trust your defensemen to move into good offensive positions and if you want them to fire one-timers on net.

The line strategy for a defensive pairing below shows a good selection on the sliders for a top defensive pairing that features at least one offensively gifted defenseman.

If your top defensive pairing features very strong offensive defenseman and your offence hinges on their goals, it might be a good idea to slide up the Cycle/Shoot option by a couple of points.

Be sure to experiment with different combinations of team strategies, trying some very passive overall plans as well as some more aggressive setups.

The most important rule when creating your team and line strategies in NHL 20 is to build to the strengths of your players.

Looking for more NHL 20 guides?

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best and Worst Teams to Use and Rebuild

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NHL 20: Top Faceoff Centers

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Players

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NHL 20 Draft: Best Players and Top Draft Steals 2021

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Free Agents

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Centers

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Goaltenders

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Defensemen

NHL 20: Fastest players – Forwards and Defensemen

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Left Wingers

NHL 20 Franchise Mode: Best Young Right Wingers

NHL 20 Ratings: Best Young Skaters

NHL 20 Ratings: Best Snipers

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NHL 20: Fastest Players – Forwards and Defensemen


Ben Chopping

Will give almost any game a chance, particularly those that include wildlife, monsters, or prehistoric creatures of any kind.

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